You've watched it happen in movies, you've listened to friends bemoan it's arrival during long, teary talks. While you've always known The Break-Up exists, you never thought it would happen to you. Your love was different, exalted, magical. He gushed over your beauty. She couldn't get enough of your kisses. You talked, you texted, you made plans for the future, you made-out until morning. Then one day The Break-Up knocked you on your ass and rendered you emotionally bruised and bloody. You are in shock. Suddenly you appreciate country songs and Shakespeare in a deep, profound way. You want to vomit. You want to crawl in a hole. You want to lie yourself in a wooden boat and float dead down the river like The Lady of Shallot. The bad news? You are suffering. The good news? The Break-Up will not kill your spirit unless you let it.
How to Make Sense of a Break-Up
Blame fate. Or as Milli Vanilli lip-synched, "Blame it on the rain." Do not berate yourself. Do not entertain the question, "What did I do wrong." You did nothing wrong. Nothing! You are simply experiencing the natural, inevitable cycle. As another hip-hop duo, Outkast, sang, "Nothing lasts forever, so what makes love the exception?" Affections shift. Relationships end. Heat cools. Leaves fall. Humans die. You must not blame yourself for that which is out of your control.
Put away your detective hat. Relationships typically end for a myriad of complicated reasons. It is impossible to peel back all the layers and find one specific cause for a break-up. You will be better off accepting your break-up for what it is than trying to decipher why it occurred. "Why?" is a question of torture.
Let your love leave. Think of the adage, "If you love something, set it free." Trying to convince your ex to stay when he or she does not want to is a waste of energy and will only delay your healing. Don't beg. Don't bargain. Don't send countless emails. Don't show up at his work. Don't call her friends. When you get the urge to pour your heart out to your ex, stop, sit down and say the following sentences aloud: "I am letting you leave because I love you and because I love me more. I deserve love that is reciprocated. I am letting you leave because I love you and because I love me more. I deserve love that is reciprocated." Repeat these until your urge subsides.
Make time for tears. You are wounded. The healing process needs time and space. Keep your calendar clear. Take a bath. Lie in bed as long as you need. Go for a walk. Sip tea. Write in a journal. Cry.
Find company. You are not alone. You are not the first to experience a broken heart, nor will you be the last. Talk to friends, listen to music, watch movies, read books. Take solace in the stories of those who loved, lost and lived to tell the tale.
Allow anger to exist, but don't allow it to bitter you. Don't seek revenge. Don't talk trash. Don't throw a fit. Don't do anything you'd be ashamed to have broadcast on the cover of US Weekly. Instead let your anger motivate you to heal, to become stronger, to never again settle for less than you deserve. Be the bigger person no matter how insensitively your ex acts.
Rearrange, reevaluate, reinvent. Buy yourself new bedding, clean your closet, give yourself a facial, sign up for a dance class, clarify your priorities, make a list of goals, color your hair, try on a new persona. With every ending comes a beginning. What direction do you want your new life to take?
Approach the healing process like work. A friend once told me that ending a relationship is like trying to push over a vending machine full of soda. It's heavy and you really have to get the thing rocking back and forth before it finally crashes to the ground once and for all. I like to think of breaking up as the emotional equivalent of hard labor. It's uncomfortable work, you get covered in dirt, you might accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer, but if you take your time, if you are conscious, if you work to heal instead of remain stuck, in the end you will come away with a beautiful, sturdy new house.
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